The Visitor

Author(s): Peter Lantos
On 19 March 1944, Germany invaded Hungary and the fate of Hungarian Jewry was sealed. Despite long tradition of anti-Semitism, later enforced by legislation, including racist laws, Hungarian Jews were the last in Europe to be caught up in the Final Solution. Within a few weeks after the invasion, with full collaboration by the authorities, Jews were herded into ghettos, transported to large collection centers in the provinces and in the summer of 1944 most were deported to various concentration camps, chiefly to Auschwitz. The play unfolds against this historical backdrop and chronicles the life and fate of a middle class family, the Singers, between 1938 and 1945. While Samuel, the patriarch of the family is dying in an upstairs bedroom, the family gathers to celebrate, under the wings of Fanny, the matriarch, the arrival of Adam, their first grandchild. Their three daughters and only son pursue their individual quest for a happy life, ignoring all the warning signs. Only the unexpected arrival of a stranger who warns them of the coming storm derails the celebratory mood. The play is about shattered dreams and suppressed desire, sibling rivalry and maternal conflict. Only at the edge of the abyss, do they finally realize the impending threat—too late. Despite the destruction, there is redemption and survival. However, the stranger, appearing at crucial times in the life of the family, remains an enigma.
Format: Full-length drama
Cast Size:12
Character breakdown:

12 characters, including a child actor. Main protagonist is Fanny the matriarch and her four children: three daughters (Sara, Serena and Anna) and only son (Leo).


Peter Lantos was born in Hungary and has been living in London for some 46 years. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and an internationally known clinical neuroscientist who has retired from a Chair at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. He is the author of numerous medical and scientific texts.


Original or Prominent Production:
A workshop reading in the Soho Theatre, London, and a rehearsed reading in March 2014 in the Park Theatre, London.
Original Source Material: Personal life of playwright (see autobiography: Parallel Lines) The Visitor is loosely based on the destruction of his family. As a child of five, he was prisoner 8431 in Bergen-Belsen where he was deported with his parents from Hungary during the summer of 1944. He and his mother survived.
Nationality of Author: Hungarian
Original Language: English

The book, Parallel Lines, by Peter Lantos, on which the play is based, is published by Arcadia Books, London.

Production Rights Holder:

Peter Lantos,

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